Google Rift Heats Up: China Blasts Clinton and U.S. for ‘Information Imperialism’

January 22, 2010

(ChattahBox)—-In the wake of the discovery reported last week that the Chinese government has been engaged in a systematic campaign of cyber warfare against Google and at least 20 other U.S. firms, Google threatened to leave China altogether and announced it would no longer comply with China’s strict Internet censorship laws. The stand off had all of the makings of an International incident, as China responded in various statements saying that Internet firms “must voluntarily submit” to its censorship practices. And the U.S. State Department released a carefully worded statement in response to the rift and the hacking revelations, saying that “We look forward to a response from the Chinese.”

But yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton turned up the heat in a scathing speech blasting China’s firewall of Internet censorship. And today, China strongly pushed back against Clinton, calling her attacks “baseless accusations.”

In her speech, Clinton said that “a new information curtain is descending across much of the world,” and she targeted China as the worst offender. The fired up Secretary of State also praised Google for its stance against Internet censorship, saying that the search engine giant was “making the issue of Internet and information freedom a greater consideration in their business decisions.”

Meanwhile, Ma Zhaoxu, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman derided Clinton for her remarks that he said would affect foreign relations with the United States. Clinton’s attacks are “harmful to Sino-American relations,” wrote Ma Zhaoxu on his Web site. And he called on Clinton “to respect the truth and to stop using the so-called Internet freedom question to level baseless accusations.” The Foreign Ministry spokesman declared that “The Chinese Internet is open.”

And to drive the point home, Chinese authorities published an angry editorial in the English-language edition of The Global Times, criticizing Clinton and the United States of “information imperialism,” for demanding that other countries provide uncensored information to its citizens:

“The U.S. campaign for uncensored and free flow of information on an unrestricted Internet is a disguised attempt to impose its values on other cultures in the name of democracy,” the newspaper said. The editorial went on to say that the “U.S. government’s ideological imposition is unacceptable and, for that reason, will not be allowed to succeed.”

This international brouhaha looks like it may escalate further, before there is any resolution.

See The New York Times for more.


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